2016 Storytelling Night: Monday, September 12, 7 p.m., Landisville Mennonite Church
“Telling stories and hearing stories from other people’s lives is one of the great human experiences,” says Phyllis Pellman Good, moderator of LMHS’s annual Storytelling Night.
“Stories touch us deeply. Listening to someone else’s stories reminds us powerfully that we are not alone.”
On Monday evening, September 12, Charles Longenecker, beloved biology teacher retired from Lancaster Mennonite School (LMS), and Janet Breneman—teacher, writer, and pastor—who spent many years in Honduras and Guatemala, will share the stage. Beginning at 7:00 p.m. at Landisville Mennonite Church, Longenecker and Breneman will each tell seven three- or four-minute-long stories from their lives, alternating throughout the evening.
Longenecker grew up on a farm in Rapho Township, Lancaster County, where he developed a deep interest in the world of nature. He is a graduate of LMS, Eastern Mennonite College (EMC), and Cornell University (with an M.S.). He taught science at LMS for forty years, where his enthusiasm for the subject struck contagion in nearly all his students. He is married to Barbara Rutt. They are the parents of four and grandparents of six.
Longenecker enjoys history, photography, reading, and volunteering. He is a longtime member of New Holland Mennonite Church. He has served on the boards of Eastern Mennonite University and the Mennonite Association of Retired Persons.
Janet Breneman grew up in the Central Manor area between Millersville and Washington Boro. She began her teaching career at LMS (home economics) and then moved on to Honduras, where she developed a domestic science curriculum for and then taught at the Mennonite Vocational Institute.
Later she spent thirteen years at SEMILLA (Latin American Anabaptist Seminary) teaching, consulting with church leaders, and writing Christian education curriculum. Fluent in Spanish, Janet led retreats and workshops and preached widely throughout Central America. When she returned to Lancaster, she pastored the Laurel Street Mennonite Church for more than fourteen years. Married to Wesley Newswanger, she is currently a member of the board of Philhaven.
Breneman is a graduate of EMC, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminaries (with an M. Div.), and Lancaster Theological Seminary (with a D. Min.).
“These two people have led rich lives. We’ll all be surprised by what we learn about their childhoods and teenage years, their mid-lives, and their current experiences and passions.
“Surprising energies often emerge between the two storytellers and what they choose to share with us as the evening unfolds,” says Good. “It’s an event you don’t want to miss!”
2015 Storytelling Night
Mamo Dula and Connie Stauffer
Connie Stauffer was born in Lancaster County, but grew up near Hershey, Pennsylvania. She was reared at the Hummelstown Brethren in Christ Church, and attended first Derry Township School and then Kraybill Mennonite. She graduated from Lancaster Mennonite High School in 1955. After graduating, she married Harold S. Stauffer, to whom she was married for 50 years before his death in 2008.
Stauffer served with the Eastern Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities first in New York City from 1958-1960 and in Somalia from 1961-1965. She received a B.S. and Masters in Elementary Education from Millersville University, as well a as Principal Certification from Penn State University, which she put to use over 30 years in the Pequea Valley School District. Stauffer attends East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church.
Mamo Dula was born and reared in Ethiopia on a subsistence farm. He vigorously pursued an education, attending first the Presbyterian Mission Elementary School, than Nazareth Hospital Dresser Bible School, Nazareth Bible Academy, Hailesellasi University, Goshen College, Temple University School of Pharmacy, and the College of Saint Francis.
He worked at St. Joseph Hospital as Assistant Director of Pharmacy and later as Director of Pharmacy at Masonic Village. With his wife Mary Ellen, Dula has two adult sons, Andrew and Peter, and four grandchildren.
2014 Storytelling Night
Elizabeth Soto Albrecht and Richard Thomas
Moderator of Mennonite Church, USA, Elizabeth Soto Albrecht grew up in Puerto Rico. She presently lives in Lancaster County. Along with being Moderator, Albrecht is also Consultant for the Cross-Cultural Program, Coordinator for Field Education, and Adjunct Professor at Lancaster Theological Seminary.
Albrecht says, “There are two identities I hold very dear to my heart: my Christian identity as an Anabaptist and my Latina (gender and cultural) identity. Both inform and shape who I am as a servant of God.”
Superintendent of Lancaster Mennonite Schools, Thomas is a member of MC USA Executive Board. He is a former Moderator of Mennonite Church USA, and during 2011-2013, served as a member of Mennonite World Conference’s General Council.
“Through my stories, I hope to convey the idea of more of a loving, welcoming, and accepting God in a Mennonite peoplehood,” says Thomas.
2013 Storytelling Night
Bishop David Sauder and Carolyn Wenger
David Sauder has served his church, the Old Order River Brethren, as deacon for twelve years, as minister for three years and now as bishop for twenty-two years. He and his wife, Emma (Conley), are the parents of three children and grandparents of eight. David has been involved in various businesses as owner, board member and consultant. Currently he does business advising for Anabaptist Financial.
Carolyn Wenger is archivist and museum curator at Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society. She directed the Society from 1976-2001 and edited its respected quarterly magazine, Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage for thirty years. She is the author, editor or translator of dozens of books and articles, including being the editor and translator of Hannes Eby Death and Burial Record, released by LMHS.
2012 Storytelling Night
Arli Klassen and Richard Showalter
Storytelling Night caught up with Arli Klassen and Richard Showalter as they looked back on leadership of two major Mennonite institutions based in Lancaster County. Klassen, former executive director of Mennonite Central Committee, is now development manager for Mennonite World Conference. Showalter, former president of Eastern Mennonite Missions, currently lives and works in Chengdu, China. Phyllis Pellman Good, senior editor at Good Books, moderates.
2010 Storytelling Night
Miriam Book and Lawrence Chiles
Pastor Miriam Book and and bishop Lawrence Chiles inaugurated the first Storytelling in September 2010. Book is interim pastor of Bethesda Mennonite Church in Henderson, Nebraska and assistant moderator of Franconia Mennonite Conference. Chiles is a bishop for Koinonia Fellowship of Churches, a group of more than twenty Spanish and English-speaking churches in southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Book said her call to ministry and love for the church was shaped in Lancaster County. “Many lessons I observed from life on the farm connect with pastoring,” she wrote.
Chiles grew up in New York City and went on to start Christian community centers in Cleveland, Harrisburg and Lancaster. We follow Jesus’ commandment to “go into all the world” when change the neighborhoods where we live, he said.